Showing posts with label player ratings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label player ratings. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Valencia's mid (or end of?) season ratings

It's slow times for news. We continue to be linked speculatively with targets old and new Jose Callejon, Nahuel Bustos, Musacchio etc and with possible returns (Guaita, Neto, Silva.) At the moment it looks more likely than not that La Liga will be played to a finish with a target date of 12 June and very late kick off times for climate reasons (11pm anyone?) In the meantime here are the player ratings for the season so far

CILLESSEN 3: Most of us viewed the swap positively at the time, seeing him as a slight upgrade on Neto. Though he has produced some decent saves in some games (at Chelsea, for example) he's way below the level needed and is a prime candidate for a summer exit. A disappointing signing. 

JAUME 3.5: Many of our fans, especially those from in and around Valencia,  rave over him and I never get why. Almost all our heaviest defeats this season have come with him between the sticks (four goals conceded to Atlanta (twice) and Mallorca, conceding 3 to Getafe (twice), Osasuna and Sociedad) while he isn't fully culpable given defensive issues this is a clear sign that he certainly shouldn't be our number 1 going forward. An okay back-up keeper but nothing more.

GAYA 6.5: A decent enough season while not hitting the heights he's capable of. His decision making can be suspect at times.

COSTA 4: Lato wanted to leave in search of more game time which he didn't get so he came in. Has been ok in a few games but lacks the quality to be more than a stop gap.

DIAKHABY 2.5: last season looked like a diamond in the rough with some good defensive performances allowing us to overlook his bad habits. Like Cillessen he hasn't been irredeemably awful, with a few decent performances (away to Ajax, for example) to boast of. But those have been easily overshadowed by his many failings, especially in European games, and habits of giving away stupid penalties. The knives are out.

MANGALA 2: He arrived on a free transfer. The positives end there. Most of the time injured and when he does play, you almost wish he'd stayed injured.

GARAY 5.5: A decent and experienced defender, but looks to be past his best and that's even before we get to the elephant in the room: he's always injured. I'd be happy enough to say bye and wish him all the best.

PAULISTA 6.5: with his experience and relative lack of injuries, he's the best defender we have but needs to curb his idiotic outbursts of temper. We saw it a few seasons ago against Las Palmas and again this year at Ajax.

PICCINI (no rating) : probably easy to forget, but he did play the first two games. Another victim of Valencia's injury curse.

FLORENZI 4: looked decent in his first game but then only played three more, getting sent off in one of them and being sub in the other two. Was tempted to give him no rating as he just hasn't played enough to make a judgement.

THIERRY: 1.5: Unbelievably, Mangala wasn't our worst signing. That honour goes to this guy and he wasn't free either, the club squandered 12 million to land him. Way, way short of the level needed.

WASS 6: Never amazing, but a solid utility player who has clocked up the second highest number of minutes in the squad and chipped in a crucial goal (even if it was a fluke) at home to Chelsea.

GUEDES 3: As I said in a previous post, a typical Guedes season at Valencia sees him look like Ronaldo reborn for 2 months, Aderlan Santos reborn for 3 months and injured the other 4 months. This season all we've got are the last two. Needs to step up or be sold.

KANG-IN 3.5: Did get his first senior goal (vs Getafe) but has otherwise looked a bit lost. Clearly needs a loan to get the minutes necessary.

CHERYSHEV 4.5: shades of Guedes, has obvious quality but way too inconsistent and spends far too much time on the sidelines injured.

PAREJO 6.5: Always a controversial player. I think he's had a decent enough season, and the club clearly miss him when he is absent, but he is inconsistent, and we haven't even mentioned the penalty misses.

COQUELIN 7: a solid season undermined only by injuries and bouts of ill-discipline. A good player to have on the team.

KONDOGBIA 4.5: there's been talk of interest from England and it may be time to cash in. After a terrific first season he's been a letdown, with special moments like the goal against Lille the exception amidst injuries and average performances.

SOLER 5.5: injuries and coaches' habits of playing him out of position (hint: he isn't a left winger) have stopped him reaching his potential.

ESQUERDO (no rating): the constant injuries have pushed him to the fringes of the first team but in 3 brief appearances there's been nothing to suggest that he will be any more than an afterthought in the mould of past holders of this role like Tropi, Rober etc

VALLEJO 4.5: has looked a decent and handy player at times, with a key equaliser in injury time at Valladolid, but the left wing where he usually plays is well stocked so it's hard to see where his minutes are coming from.

FERRAN 8.5: big breakout season with too many great performances to list. Unfortunately, it looks likely to be his swansong. With contract negotiations dragging on without success and his contract running out in June next year, I could hardly blame the club if they cashed in their chips rather than risk him leaving for nothing.

SOBRINO 2.5: Would you believe he played in 14 games this season? That stat is misleading as nine of them saw him coming in as a very late sub, in five cases he played just a minute. Like his predecessor, Celades clearly lacks confidence in him and you can't blame him, as Sobrino looks out of his depth. A brilliant debut at Celtic last season was clearly a fluke. A key equaliser vs Sevilla notwithstanding, not good enough. 

RODRIGO 5.5: one of the two most controversial players in the team. Supporters point to his many assists: 11 in 28 games. Critics point out that he's supposed to be scoring goals and 5 in 28 is a poor return, though that does include critical away goals in Europe. Few would argue with selling him if an offer of 40 million or more came in.

GAMEIRO 4.5: an ok third striker, but again his scoring rate is just not good enough: 7 in 29, though half those have been as sub. He was 33 last week and has to be a candidate to be moved on.

MAXI 6.5: decent enough debut season (let's forget Chelsea at the Mestalla) where he's got to double figures. If La Liga does return, 15 goals would be the target. 

CELADES 4.5: came in under very controversial circumstances. With expectations low, he's done better than many expected: qualification from a tough group in the Champions league the jewel in the crown as well as some wins over traditionally tricky opponents such as Bilbao and Eibar. Big question marks remain. Injuries have almost always handicapped him, but how much of those injuries are on him? What's his playing style or philosophy? A major concern is that, under him, the defence has taken a definite step backwards. Hasn't done enough wrong to merit a summer replacement (though with an owner like Lim, who knows?) so should be in the bench next season, but needs to improve if he wants to be in the hot seat beyond the end of this year.

THE SEASON 4: The first game at home to Sociedad was definitely a sign of things to come. Missing a penalty in the 93rd minute, then gifting them a penalty in the 98th to throw away 2 points highlighted a major problem of Valencia: penalties. We miss too many and concede too many, easily the highest in La Liga over the last 4 seasons. Wins at Chelsea and Ajax to secure a first last 16 CL place in 7 years was a sweet moment, but then drawing the relatively weakest team and getting owned in both legs soured it and showed that the club still has a long way to go if it wants to play with the big boys. Constant injuries have highlighted the need for a squad revamp, as there are too many fragile players. The sacking of Marcelino was a worrying development. It showed that Lim can't just leave well alone and the owner-driven signings of Thierry and Mangala on Mendes' advice is an unwelcome return to the bad old days. If the season does resume, getting to top four looks unlikely, the team would need to show much more consistency than they showed pre-lockdown.

Thanks for reading and as always, your comments are appreciated.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Valencia's mid-term report

There's one game left until the first round of fixtures has been played so now is a good time to look at where the team is at, through player ratings.

The season had a turbulent start, overshadowed by limited activity in the transfer market as a result of the ongoing internal feud. The team then started in the worst possible way. Missing a 92nd minute penalty at home to Sociedad which would have given a two-goal cushion, then conceding a 98th minute penalty to throw away 2 points. After a defeat in game two, a dour 2-0 win over Mallorca was achieved which proved to be Marcelino's swansong. Celades had his doubters and they seemed to be proved right when the team went down 2-5 to Barcelona in his first game. Results since that, however, have improved and the team is in a good, but not excellent position, with a tough fight against teams like Sevilla, Sociedad, Bilbao and Getafe to repeat 4th place. The big achievement so far has been reaching the last 16 of the champions league for the first time in 7 years.

So, here are the manager and player ratings and comments, 6 was the default score.

CILLESSEN 6 - arrived in a swap for Neto with most of us seeing him as a minor improvement. So far he's been no better. There have been a number of quality saves, but also real gaffes, against Barcelona and Levante for example. Mixed evidence. Jury is still out.

JAUME 6 - has proved as always to be a capable back-up but 6 goals conceded in his first two games and suspicions about his weaknesses in the air and at set pieces prevent him from getting a higher rating.

WASS 6.5 - has mostly played at right back, where he started his career. Hasn't excelled there but his experience and versatility have proved useful for the team. A well taken chance against Granada and a somewhat lucky equaliser against Chelsea have been his highs.

PICCINI  (N/R = no rating) was never that amazing, but is missed as a squad player. 

THIERRY 1.5 - when some of us complained about the coaching change, it wasn't out of love for the previous manager's style of football. It was because we saw the bigger picture: more meddling by Lim and Mendes was sure to happen and that rarely goes well. This season's exhibit A for the prosecution is this guy. 12 million splashed out for a player with only a handful of club games. Predictably, it hasn't gone well and all his three appearances have seen the team concede three goals (Ajax, Getafe and Osasuna.) A loan looks inevitable. Him playing a key role at Valencia in the future doesn't.

MANGALA (N/R = no rating) bringing him back was another clear Mendesism. In fairness, he did well against Betis, but that was cancelled out with an iffy display against Villarreal.

GARAY 5 - this very well could be his last season and he looks a fading force to me, so replacing him wouldn't be the worst thing.

PAULISTA 7.5 - has really done well this season, looking a solid defender, but needs to curb his temper, with the sending off against Ajax a clear example.

DIAKHABY 6 - gets criticism from the fans, but is a solid third choice at the back and proved vs Chelsea that he can double as defensive midfielder too. Still needs more experience, as his nadir vs Lille proved.

GAYA 6.5 - has generally had a decent season so far, while not hitting the heights of previous seasons, especially in attack.

COSTA 5 - with Lato pushing for more game time (which he hasn't got) Costa returned as the replacement to scepticism. He's done okay so far, without being amazing. It's noticeable when he's playing on the right that teams target that side.

FERRAN 8.5 - is enjoying his breakout season with high level performances. Ended the year with 3 goals and 3 assists from the final 8 games. The big question: can the club renew his contract, which expires summer 2021?

SOLER 6 - unlike Ferran, his breakout hasn't quite happened and a 2-month injury layoff didn't help. A valuable player, but can he realise his early potential in 2020?

ESQUERDO N/R - somewhat fortunate to make the first team due to the incessant injuries. Haven't seen anything so far to suggest he'll be more than a bit player at Valencia.

PAREJO 7.5 - remains the engine room of Valencia, how he manages to hold on to the ball is a thing of wonder and still scares opposition keepers from free kicks. Just ask Oblak. Now, if only he could score penalties in the Champions league.

COQUELIN 7 - brought in as a back-up, has established himself as probably main choice after Dani with solid performances. Just lacks the box to box abilities of the next guy...

KONDOGBIA 4.5 - after an excellent debut season when he rivalled Guedes for player of the season, he has been a let down, with constant injuries and the feeling that he's only playing at 50%. Like Guedes, fans will hope to see a return to his best next year. Speaking of which....

GUEDES 3 - Oh Goncalo, where art thou? If you were to summarise a Guedes season at Valencia, it would be: 2.5 months where he's on fire and looks like Ronaldo reborn. 3 months injured. 3.5 months mediocre, where he runs into dead ends, loses the ball or falls over and gets dispossessed easily. So far this season, we've just seen the injury and mediocrity. For 40 million, more was expected than half a great season out of 2.5 seasons. His return to playing is said to be the end of this month. When he does come back, he really needs to step up, otherwise he'll go down as yet another expensive flop of the Lim era in the mould of Abdennour, Enzo, Negredo etc.

CHERYSHEV 6 - a good player when he's not injured. That's the problem, isn't it? He seems to spend half the season on the sidelines with injuries, which is a shame, because as he showed with the goals and performances at Bilbao and Lille, he's a useful player when fit.

KANG-IN 5.5 - like Ferran, it was hoped that this would be his season. Just hasn't happened and not only due to injury. He got a good goal against Getafe, but needs more regular playing time, which would probably come through a loan.

VALLEJO 6 - though mostly limited to sub appearances so far, has proved a handy player, with an ability to dribble at defenders. Question is similar to Kang-In, how can he get the game time necessary to improve?

SOBRINO 4 - the coaching change provided him with a second opportunity which he hasn't taken, good goal against Sevilla notwithstanding. Just doesn't look to have the level for Valencia.

RODRIGO 6.5 - forever a player who divides and polarises the Valencia fanbase. Supporters point to his link-up play and assists, which he's currently joint top of La Liga for. Critics lambast him for his lack of goals: just four in 21 games. Needs to seriously improve the latter, though we say that every season.

MAXI 6.5 - has been a good addition so far, offering something different to the attack with strength and aerial power. Needs to sharpen up his finishing, though.

GAMEIRO 6 - a combination of the comments about Cheryshev and Rodrigo. Not a bad player when he's not injured, which happens too often and also needs to work on finishing.

CELADES 7 - has done a very good job since coming in at a difficult time. Won over the dressing room and improved some aspects of Marcelino. We no longer see players ostracised, the team are better to watch and there's some tactical flexibility. On the negative, the defence really needs to improve, the injury situation needs to be investigated and the number of penalties conceded and missed needs to be reduced. Lastly, the team could to with some coaching on avoiding conceding late goals. If he can sort out those flaws, there's no reason why he shouldn't stay coach after this season.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Messi 2-2 Valencia

Valencia ended a good week with a combative display against Barcelona, coming away from the Nou Camp with a point, though it was after having been 2-0 ahead. A few changes in the line up, probably with a few players tired after the midweek exertions and the Copa game also coming up. Gameiro was preferred over Mina up front, Wass started instead of Soler on the right and Lato came in for the injured Gaya.


Valencia started strongly, putting down a marker from the beginning. A good move saw Parejo force a save from Ter Stegen and Cheryshev hit the post from the follow up. After the 10th minute, Barcelona began to take more control of proceedings, pushing up, passing around but finding the defence well-organised and it was Valencia that drew first blood. Messi was dinking around, trying to find a pass through, but Parejo dispossessed him and found Gameiro whose pass found Rodrigo. He made a great driving run then played an excellent ball into space for Gameiro to fire across Ter Stegen for the opening goal.

Barcelona pushed up, but got caught out again, Valencia broke and Cheryshev's cross was good, with Wass being bundled over for a penalty which Parejo converted in style.

Barcelona hit back later in the half, with Semedo going down in the area after taking a touch from Lato. It was dubious, but just about allowable under VAR and Messi slotted home from the penalty spot. Unfortunately, Gameiro had suffered concussion earlier after a clash of heads and had to go off to be replaced by Ferran.

The second half followed a similar pattern. Most of the time, Barcelona were passing around about 30 metres from our goal. We had the occasional breakaway with a couple of half chances falling to Rodrigo and Wass, but nothing concrete. In the 63rd minute, Lato lost the ball, Messi picked it up and managed to curl it around a group of Valencia players, with Neto having no chance. Though Gabriel was struggling a bit, he stayed on, with the welcome return of Kondogbia after a 2-month absence and Mina coming on for Rodrigo.

Overall, it's a little disappointing we couldn't hold the early lead, which would have capped off a great week, but we'd all have happily taken a point from this one at the beginning, with Barcelona coming in to the game with 8 straight wins in the league so this is a result which will keep morale high.

PLAYER RATINGS
Neto 7.5 - had a very good game, making a number of key stops. Not a lot he could do about the goals.
Lato 4.5 - struggled in this game and was at fault for both the goals
Garay 6.5 - confident performance, especially in the air
Gabriel 6.5 - soldiered on from both head and leg injuries and was always well positioned
Piccini 6 - suffered from Barcelona targeting his side, but made a number of key interceptions
Cheryshev 6 - was an active participant throughout the game and unlucky not to score early on
Parejo 8.5 - an excellent game which continues his purple patch. Dispossessed Messi on more than one occasion and was a lively presence at both ends. We need him like this.
Coquelin 6 - a competent performance covering, through limited creation
Wass 5.5 - while he was involved in the second goal, didn't do enough in this game to stake any claims to Soler's spot
Gameiro 6.5 - very well taken goal to justify his selection, he's been playing well in recent weeks and it was a shame to see him injured
Rodrigo 7 - has returned to form and his confidence was clear to see here, great decision making for the first goal

SUBS
Ferran 5 - Valencia were on the back foot for most of the time after he came on so his role was limited
Kondogbia 5.5 - great to see him back, but will need more games to get back to fitness
Mina 5.5 - worked hard at the end after coming on, but limited chances















Saturday, November 24, 2018

Valencia 3-0 Rayo Vallecano

Valencia finally secure their first home win of the season and do so in convincing fashion, with a 3-0 win over one of the relegation favourites.

Just one change in the line-up compared to the previous game: Diakhaby returned for his first league game since September replacing Garay. Is the latter injured again?

Valencia started well and clearly looked determined to get the 3 points from this one. Soler and Guedes both had chances in the opening 15 minutes but their keeper kept them out. It wasn't all one way and all too often attacking moves from Valencia broke down due to poor movements, decision making and most of all, passing. There were also a few individual errors from Wass, Gaya and Diakhaby which could have proved more costly. Rayo were starting to come back into it. In minute 20 an attack from them hit the post, with Neto saving the rebound.

By minute 30 Rayo were even starting to look a bit better than us when the breakthrough came. Rodrigo nodded a through ball on to the on running Mina, who finished confidently. Bonus point for ditching the LeBron James celebration too!

Valencia had a penalty shout soon after that when Rodrigo tangled with their defender but it was 50/50 situation. Guedes then produced a moment of great skill and acceleration, but messed up the final pass.

The start of the second half followed the pattern of the first, with Valencia dominant. The second came from great work by Rodrigo. It looked like the pass to him had been overhit with the defender shepherding it out, but he sprinted on to and forced a corner. From that, Gabriel chested it down and forced a save from the keeper, with Mina following up to score. For once, Valencia were looking comfortable. Mina was subbed off soon after for a rest and a deserved ovation. Gameiro came on and finished it off. A decent counter attack found him, he played a great ball into the path of Rodrigo and the latter smartly laid it back instead of shooting for Gameiro to wrap up the game.

Wouldn't get too carried away with this one, Rayo, after Ebro, are the weakest team we've played this season, but a comfortable scoreline reflected a good performance, boosts the team's morale and gives us our 4th win in 5 games to quieten veteya ideas.

PLAYER RATINGS
Neto 7 - one of the few players on the team who've been better than last season, another good performance today.
Gaya 6.5 - limited in attack but did his defensive duties well
Diakhaby 6 - his lack of recent games showed as he made a couple of mistakes, but nothing major
Gabriel 8 - continues to have a great season and has been a rock in defence this year
Wass 6.5 - looks better and more useful in this position, but still not the long term RB solution, did well in attack but looks less secure in defence
Guedes 5 - had one or two good moments but is out of form, lacks confidence and is far from the guy who lit up Mestalla last year
Parejo 6.5 - solid game in midfield, but has lost his free kick mojo
Coquelin 7 - positional play and defensive cover was excellent. Has been in good form since his return and has actually been better than Kondogbia this season
Soler 6 - combined well with Wass, but not one of his better games, looked a bit tired
Rodrigo 7.5 - a great game with key involvement in all 3 goals, just needs to score to build up his confidence
Mina 8.1 - man of the match, confident finishes and good understanding with his strike partner has given him 6 goals in 5 games since his injury return. At least we have 1 striker from 4 who can score.

Subs
Gameiro 6 - good cameo, did everything right for the goal
Ferran - not enough time
Vezo - don't think he touched the ball?




















Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Manchester United 0-0 Valencia post-match thoughts

Post-match thoughts rather than a full match write-up, because the truth is that last night's game was a dull snoozefest, devoid of clear chances for each side, so I'd prefer to talk more generally. What we saw on the whole were 2 teams out-of-form, lacking in confidence and performing way below the level that they should, who fought each other to a stalemate. The first 70 minutes were an even enough game, with few clear cut chances. Manchester United were a bit better in the last 20 minutes as they became increasingly desparate to score, but a draw was a fair result.

That's 6 games out of 8 that we've drawn and I don't think that's an accident. After a shaky start to the season, the defence and Neto have really sharpened up. Only 1 goal conceded from open play in the last 6 games is testament to that. Murillo has his fans but for me, he'd be fourth choice. Garay-Gabriel are the best pairing we have at the moment, with Diakhaby a good option when there's a vacancy: usually due to Garay's injuries. The Gabriel-Diakhany partnership has kept three clean sheets in a row. Gabriel, in particular, deserves praise. He's been at a good level recently and controlled Lukaku like a boss last night. Right back, obviously remains the exception.

Central midfield has been more rather than less. Parejo has been average but Kondogbia and Coquelin have been in decent form. Last night, the latter was the only selection surprise, starting on the right, in an obvious attempt to shore up the right side defensive problem. On the whole it didn't work for me. Coquelin looked uncomfortable there and, weirdly, Soler has offered better cover when on, so that didn't work.

All the above qualities are useless if we can't score and for us the problem in this game was the one that has been blatantly obvious all season: useless in the final third with all our attack-minded players below the level we expect and have seen before, with Soler the one closest to the previous level. Rodrigo, Guedes and Cheryshev have been a shadow of the players from last season/the world cup. Guedes was mostly poor last night. Got into good space many times but poor shooting and decision making meant nothing came of it.

Batshauyi has been possibly the biggest disappointment. A less decisive version of Zaza. He's good at holding up the ball but holds it too long and either ends up crowded out and loses possession or, by the time he passes, the other team has had enough time to get men back. Not good enough for a team built on fast counter-attacks. I'd hoped that last night his English experience would lead to improved performance, but no, it was the same old. He just seems to lack any connection and understanding with teammates. I know I defended Zaza leaving but he had good understanding with Rodrigo, Guedes and Soler and did something with the ball. I wish we still had Zaza in the team.

Gameiro, with the exception of the Sociedad game, just reminds me of Mina from 2 seasons ago: runs a lot but mostly for nothing as he usually doesn't get into useful positions or have the understanding with teammates necessary to make something of it.

A couple of general points from this game and others. We seem to be shooting from outside the box quite a bit and most of the time it's well over. Guedes last night and Rodrigo, Batshauyi, Soler, Parejo and Wass, among others, have all disappointed in this sense. The wild shots from distance are a sign of a lack of confidence: patience and waiting for the chance to find a forward would work better. But it we are going to do it, at least hit the target. We might get a lucky bounce or a rebound which allows us to score.

Secondly, professionals of this level shouldn't be letting themselves be suckered into so many silly yellow card fouls. Rodrigo and Kondogbia were unjustly booked last night, but Parejo did his usual stunt of panicking when his man got away from him and picking up a blatant yellow. We can complain about refereeing mistakes (Pogba's play acting last night was disgraceful) but if we give refs the chance to card us, we can't complain.

Overall, pre-season, or when the draw was made, we'd all have taken a draw at Old Trafford, but I feel a bit disappointed. Short term. like the Villarreal game, it's a decent result, but in the overall context, it's a let down. I saw no improvement in attack from us. Man United are in poor form and I definitely feel that the Valencia of a year ago would have won by a goal or two. Conversely, had Man U been in form, I think they'd have beaten us by two goals at least.

A result better for us than them, but one which makes it very hard to reach next round. In the last game, most likely Juventus, even with a weakened team, will beat us and Man U will win at home to Young Boys. That means we need to take 6 points from the Swiss, hope Man U don't win either of the Juve games and then we beat Man U at home. Doable, but I just don't have the confidence in the team, the attack in particular, as they are currently playing to believe in this and so I think we should brace ourselves for Europa league.

PLAYER RATINGS FROM LAST NIGHT

Neto 8 - positioning always good and handled everything MUFC threw at him. Solid performance.
Gaya 7 - has been in good form and showed no weakness last night
Gabriel 8.5 - excellent game. One of his best in a Valencia shirt. Always reliable, cut out everything and gave no quarter.
Garay 7.5 - solid as a rock and dominated them in the air.
Piccini 5 - I'd give him 6/6.5 for attacking contributions and 4 for defence. Wasn't a disaster but had a couple of bad moments, including nearly conceding a penalty. Replacing Montoya with him has been pointless so far.
Guedes 5 - a let down. Poor first half when he got every decision wrong. Better in second period but still not showing enough.
Parejo 6 - passed well and cleaned up okay but loses marks for his usual silly yellow
Kondogbia 8 - best midfielder on the pitch, made Pogba and the rest of their midfield look ordinary
Coquelin 5.5 - worst game since his return, looked a bit lost at times out of position
Rodrigo 5.5 - disappointing display and still looks far off his best. Put in one decent cross which Guedes missed, but that was about it
Batshuayi 4.5 - big let down again and still not showing the ability we know he has

SUBS
Gameiro 5 - not much of an improvement on Bats and had limited opportunities
Soler 6.5 - probably would have been better to start him. Offered more in both attack and defence.
Cheryshev N/A - had a couple of good moments, but far off his world cup level

Sunday, September 2, 2018

La Liga Matchday #3 | Levante UD 2-2 Valencia CF | Match Report

Valencia CF are still without a win this La Liga season, managing only 2 points from 9 in the first three games. With the amount of money spent, this is surprising and disappointing, especially in the previous game and this one where we really should've been the dominant side. However, with the performances displayed, it really isn't surprising. This was another sloppy performance, no matter which way you look at it. And no, we can't use Guedes not playing as an excuse. One player can't solve everything. Some problems in attack and breaking down defenses might be addressed but poor finishing, defensive positioning, communication, defending and passing cannot be solved.

LINEUP


Usual formation but with a change in lineup. We all expected a change in defense after recent poor performances but oddly that was the only part, other than the goalkeeper, which remained unchanged. I don't know what the issue is with Murillo being sidelined but it's a bit concerning if it is the case. In midfield with Kondogbia feeling some discomfort, Wass slotted in next to Parejo in midfield. I was a bit concerned seeing the team sheet with two attack minded midfield players. But with Coquelin injured and Racic relegated to the B team, Wass or Soler were the only options. Soler did make the lineup again on the right with Cheryshev filling in on the left where Wass played in previous games. Guedes was not deemed ready/fit yet so he was left out of the lineup completely. Santi Mina was replaced with Gameiro after not making an impact in previous games. Rodrigo completed the attack.

MATCH

The game didn't begin in a promising way. Lots of poor passes and as a result lots of lost possession from both sides. Not the focus and mentality I expected in a game where we needed a win. 

What happened at the 13th minute mark was shocking and embarrassing. I think it was a culmination of almost everything that has failed in recent performances. Parejo loses possession in midfield with a misplaced pass. Morales claims possession and knocks it past Wass who had slide in to tackle. Parejo tries the same but Morales leaves him in the dust as well. Diakhaby comes in and decides to repeat the same sliding challenge for a third time, but with the same result. Morales carries the ball forward with some pressure from Soler who had barely managed to catch up but was shrugged off as well. At this point it was Paulista and Gaya against Morales, Roger and Boateng. Gaya left his man and slid into a challenge on Morales who laid the ball off for Boateng on the left with Soler nearby just watching. Paulista just stood in the center screaming with his arms up at the linesman, presumably claiming offside. Boateng shoots and Neto saves, and it seemed like danger was averted, only he let the ball go. Straight into the path of Roger who couldn't miss from there. Piccini had barely made an effort to run back as well. 7 players and a goalkeeper versus 3 players on the break and they still manage a way through. I just couldn't believe it.

After three minutes of despair, thinking about how awful that play was from our end, some relief came in the form of a Valencia goal. It was a pretty simple progression, Wass played the ball out from the back with a ground pass to Rodrigo who picked out Soler out wide on the right. Soler then spotted out the run of Cheryshev into the space between the two defenders, delivered a cross and Cheryshev connected well and headed the ball into the net. Solid goal for it's simplicity but done with great execution from Soler and Cheryshev. It was much needed and a great way to respond.

Three minutes later still, Gaya who cut inside from an advanced position on the left to find a great run from Rodrigo with a great cross, only it was just out of reach and an almost certain goal had there been a connection. 

Valencia would produce another great chance via Gaya again in the 25 minute. Gaya had made his way forward again, played Cheryshev through to the goal line where he would cut the ball back to Gamerio in space. The ball was slightly behind Gameiro and he fumbled the effort. I think he should've scored it still especially with his experience and finishing ability. 

Levante would respond with a cross from the right by Roger to the center where it was headed away by Paulista, straight to Morales on the left side. He would have the time and space, under little pressure or effort from Piccini, to produce a good shot and Valencia would be saved by the crossbar. Just before half time, Neto would manage to save a free kick on target from distance.

Levante would come again 5 minutes later, now having gained the momentum. A diagonal ball from the right from Bardhi was played across to Roger who made a run in between Piccini and Paulista. They both tried to close him down but he slipped through them with minimal effort, looked up and found Neto in an advanced position of his line needlessly. He somehow got a shot across goal to the opposite side with little power but the accuracy was all that mattered. Horrible defending and keeping again.

Into the second half break where Marcelino had some time to address some issues and attempt to still win the game. He refrained from making substitutions at this point. 

Only a minute into the second half, Boateng made a run out wide on the right and Diakhaby went out to pressure him, the former left him in the dust on the ground and made a run along the goal line, sent the ball into the box only to be saved by Neto.

Six minutes later, the same combo that produced our first goal would strike again. Cheryshev would cross the ball into the box from the left, finding no Valencia players. The Levante defender would try to collect the ball for a simple clean up, only he didn't see the charging run of Soler who would get in ahead of him and claim possession. The defender panics and fouls him, conceding a penalty which Parejo converts easily. 2-2.

Approaching the 60 minute mark, Cheryshev would find himself in possession out on the left again, delivers a great cross finding Gamerio in a great position ahead of a sea of Levante players, the latter would make contact but the ball hits the post. Great positioning, great cross but the finishing is off again. Five minutes later, the same combination, Cheryshev and Gamerio, with the same play, a cross from the left, only for Gamiero's header to find the post again. It just wasn't his day. All the right positioning and runs but not the finishing.

Marcelino would resort to the substitutions now, taking off both players involved in the last play. Batshuyai came on for Gameiro, while Ferran Torres replaced Cheryshev. 

Ferran Torres would have an almost instant impact. Just five minutes after coming on, he taken on two Levante defenders out wide on the left, slips through between both of them with some trickery but gets taken out to avert danger. Coke, who had taken him out had already been booked and would find himself picking up a second one and getting sent off. Valencia would have 14 minutes to play with an extra man advantage to find a win. 

Marcelino, now with an advantage, brings on Santi Mina for Soler, to add more fire power. Santi Mina would score very soon after coming on only to be ruled offside. 

Finally, Rodrigo would get one of the best chances of the game after Ferran Torres picks him out in space at the far post, only for Rodrigo to miss the ball completely. He really had to score there. 

Even with five minutes of added time, the victory would still elude Valencia despite the abundances of great chances.

GOALS

1-0 Roger (13')
1-1 Cheryshev (16')
2-1 Roger (33')
2-2 Parejo, pen. (52') 

PLAYER RATINGS

Neto 1 - Mistakes like what happened with the first goal has become a more frequent occurrence and should never happen. Awful positioning for the second goal. Made one good save from a free kick.
Piccini 1 - A defensive liability. It's not just the quality of the defending, he simply makes no effort to close down or track back when possession is lost. Nowhere is sight for the first goal, completely sloppy on the second.
Diakhaby 1.5 - Was exposed far too many times. One time resulted in the first goal, the others managed to escape free of consequence.
Paulista 1 - It's really not a good sign when an experienced defender just stands around screaming and waving his arms at the linesman and doesn't act at all. That was him for the first goal. Failed to accomplish anything in stopping the second goal.
Gaya 5 - provided some dangerous attacking play that resulted in a chance for Rodrigo who couldn't reach it and the other for Gameiro who hit the post.
Wass 3 - his distribution, passing and playing the ball out from the back are all good in this position but he didn't seem to have the defensive ability that a CDM would provide.  
Parejo 3.5 - poor challenge and lost possession that lead to the first goal. Good conversion on penalty.  
Soler 7 - great rebound game after a sub par last one. Commendable effort to make quite the run tracking back to help the defense in the first goal. Great vision and cross to pick out Cheryshev for our first goal. Great work ethic again in claiming the ball ahead of the Levante defender and drawing in the foul for the equalizing penalty.
Cheryshev 8 - amazing performance today. Had the position and technique to anticipate and connect with Soler's cross to score the first goal. He put in several more great crosses all game, one of which lead to the penalty, while the many others were dangerous but the resulting chances hit the post or were missed.
Rodrigo 4 - remained quite involved in the plays all through the game but it was disappointing to see him miss such easy chances
Gameiro 4.5 - got in all the right positions but failed to convert any of them. Could've easily scored a hat trick today with slightly better finishing. 

Subs:
Ferran Torres 6 - instant impact substitution. Gave us more than a fighting chance by dribbling past two defenders and drawing a red card foul from Coke. Proceeded to provide dangerous crosses for the remained of the game.
Batshuyai 4 - didn't really do much since coming on.
Santi Mina 4 - quick to score after coming on, only it was offside. No impact after that.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Pretty disappointing game all round. What's worrying me the most is that I am not seeing any improvements. We have the squad to compete but we're doing anything but that. That implies to be that the errors are not being spotted (unlikely since they're obvious), the players aren't responding to the criticism for one reason or the other, the changes need time, or there is a lack of belief. 

I said in the introduction that Guedes can't solve everything and I stand by that. But what he can do is spark some renewed energy into the team. But the defense needs work. Major work. I don't recall ever having to give such low ratings all round in defense. And the fact that we have two ready and able defenders just sitting on the sidelines and not being tried is worrying. If Marcelino trusts these two over the other ones and these ones are performing this poorly, how bad must the other two be?

That being said, the offense has some rays of hope. Soler and Cheryshev put in a great effort and together rescued the team from a loss by setting up the two goals, both after having fallen back by one. Ferran Torres had a promising appearance off this bench, while both Gameiro and Rodrigo were on the verge of a goal fest albeit the finishing let them down.

Hopefully, getting Kondogbia back and a Guedes return in the second game can do something for the confidence of the players at the very least. Both our next matches are at home so that should further instill some belief and confidence. The good thing is we have a lot of time to fix things. Our next competitive match is on the 15th at home to Betis and the following is the first Champions League group stage game, also at home, against a tough Juventus side. In addition, our next game is a friendly on September 5th, against Segunda B side CD Alcoyana at 20:30 CEST (14:30 EDT), so we have a great chance to test out some changes and maybe give some players a run out into fitness. That being said, it is also the international break, until our next La Liga game, so only those not called up will be available to Marcelino.


As usual, let everyone know your ideas, thoughts and comments about the game in the comments below. What's the issue with the defense? Who impressed? Who disappointed?

Monday, August 27, 2018

La Liga Matchday #2 | RCD Espanyol 2-0 Valencia CF | Match Report

A disappointing away game after a promising start to the season. Valencia came into the game on the back of a great opener against a tough and well-drilled Atletico Madrid team where a 1-1 draw was less than what they deserved with the number of chances created. Espanyol also came into the game with a 1-1 draw away to Celta Vigo. We were the favorites to win on paper but it didn't matter in the midst of many mistakes committed, especially in defense. The mistakes were punished and we truly didn't deserve a win today.

LINEUP


Nothing new in terms of formation, still and probably always will be 4-4-2. The lineup remained unchanged from last game minus Garay who is sidelined due to injury with Diakhaby favored as the replacement by Marcelino. According to Superdeporte, Marcelino finds him really promising and is impressed with him. This is already starting a bit of debate with regards to the CB position. It's good we have 5 to choose from to maintain competition. 

MATCH

The first ten minutes of the first half featured very quick and aggressive pressing from both sides. Any possession was quickly close down and some fouls were made. 

On the verge of 10 minutes, the Valencia half chances would come in. Wass heads a long ball coming from midfield towards Rodrigo in the box who broke free from his defender but couldn't make contact with the ball as it was too far ahead. Two minutes later, it would be Gaya making a forward run and finding Rodrigo with a cross and the latter made contact with a header but it wasn't enough to beat Diego Lopez. A few seconds later Santi Mina, would try a wild effort from range but would miss the target.

The 17th minute saw the first real chance at goal for Valencia. Piccini would play a nice through ball into Soler's run. The latter would then dribble past an Espanyol player to the goal line and pull the ball back for Santi Mina whose shot was blocked by a defender, more specifically the defender's arms. This sent the players and Marcelino in hysteria and demands of a VAR check. The VAR officials dismissed the claims in a minute or so much to the dislike of the players. At first glance, the distance between the player's hands and the ball was too small to get out of the way and it was a case of ball to hand rather than hand to ball. However, the last factor is intent and I believe it was totally intentional. There is no way anyone tries to block that shot with their head. The player wanted to get his body in front of the ball and he didn't care whether it was his arms or not. My biased opinion is a penalty for intent, the ball was going into the net had he not done it, but it is what it is.\

Espanyol's first threat would come on the stroke of 32 minutes when Javi Lopez crossed the ball from the right into the box to find Sergio Garcia who would send a strong header towards the goal, only to be denied by the crossbar. The rebound would fall to Iglesias who would send another header towards goal but the shot was cleared off the line by a reflex save from Neto. Espanyol players insisted the ball crossed the line but VAR would quickly and correctly dismiss the claims. Great save by Neto, but static defending by Paulista who just let his man go for the first header. Piccini was also a tad bit slow and his positioning in question. A minute later, Espanyol would sent a volley from range to be again denied by Neto.

Valencia would respond in kind with a wonderful chance. Gaya found himself in a deep position in midfield and found Rodrigo who played a brilliant through ball for Santi Mina to the left of goal while the former made his way into the box in anticipation of a return ball. The return would come only for Rodrigo to fire straight at the keeper from point-blank range. Disappointing finish to a great move. Chances like that need to be taken. 

Into the second half, 50 minutes into the game, a half-chance from a Diakhaby back-heel via a Parejo corner was cleared off the line by an Espanyol defender. The counter attack resulting for the clearance saved in turn by Neto.

Valencia would fall apart in the 60-70 minute time period. An Espanyol player moved out of the way of a teammate's shot only to expose Diakhaby to the shot. He parried the ball with his forearm and conceded a free-kick as a result. The kick was taken by Granero and was unstoppable to the right of Neto, off the cross bar and just in. Nothing that can be done to save that. 

Marcelino would bring on Cheryshev for Wass and Gamerio for Santi Mina, who had faded from the game in the second half. Later, Piccini would get caught out of position having drifted towards the center by a long ball from the back from Espanyol, he would go to ground at the slightest contact with the attacker, only to get up again and the danger averted. A minute later, he would get caught the same way, out of position again, he would attempt a sloppy clearance only for Baptistao to get a free run on goal. Paulista and Diakhaby both frozen, one former claiming offside the other just static. The shot would be saved by Neto only for the Iglesias to capitalize on the sloppy defending and react first to bury the ball in the net. Atrocious defending by 3 of the four players.

Marcelino would attempt to change the game by using his final substitution, Batshuyai for Rodrigo but to no avail, the lead was too great and we didn't create very convincing chances. 


GOALS

1-0 Granero (62')
2-0 Iglesias (68')

PLAYER RATINGS

Neto 8 - great job today. A quick reflex save in the first half, with a few other easier saves, could do nothing about the free kick and another great save to deny the first attempt from Baptistao only for the defense to let Iglesias have a free shot on goal for the second goal.
Piccini 1 - disaster all night and atypical of him, he can do much better. Lost possession way too many times on the way forward, got caught twice in the same fashion out of position, the first time he got away with it and was severely punished the second time only a few minutes later.
Diakhaby 3 - I'm on the fence about him. At times I see a quick yet strong defender who cleans up well with great tackling ability, at other times I see him get distracted and loses concentration as with the second goal leaving his man go free. Had a decent effort on goal with a back-heel. 
Paulista 3 - The more experience of the two central defenders but got caught up claiming offside and let Iglesias go free. He probably expected Diakhaby to cover but I think he could've reacted quicker. 
Gaya 6 - did well going forward, getting some dangerous crosses in, especially the one for Rodrigo but it couldn't be converted. 
Kondogbia 7.5 - strong presence in midfield to make key interceptions and tackles. I still feel the attacking aspect of his game that we saw last season is missing.
Parejo 6 - decent performance, especially compared to his prior game where he was brilliant. The passing work was good, the defensive work ethic not so much.
Soler 4 - Second game in a row where he doesn't look too sharp. The passing was sloppy and the shots were just as bad. Might need some time on the bench to motivate him.
Wass 5 - balanced offensive and defensive display. Not as big a threat as he was last game but caused some trouble here and there. 
Rodrigo 6 - when you get a chance that good from the Santi Mina pull back, you need to convert especially at that range and at this level. Caused plenty of trouble with his runs, passing and dribbles but nothing tangible to show for it.
Santi Mina 5 - very involved in the first half of the game and even set up a wonderful chance for Rodrigo, faded away in the second half.

Subs:
Cheryshev 5 - maybe should've been brought on earlier and for Soler rather than Wass.
Gamerio 5 - created 1 or 2 decent chances, but nothing to show for it 
Batshuyai N/A

FINAL THOUGHTS

It's a shame we couldn't get the win. Away games are usually a struggle but the defending was the Achilles heel today. It was simply atrocious. Also, we are really lacking a player than can take on defenders and beat them or at least pull them away to create space for others. That's where Guedes fits in. However, having Guedes or someone similar won't fix the defensive problems. I expect to see Murillo in the next game after these two games of experimenting. This was the worst I have seen Piccini at, he seemed to have lost all focus, losing possession, caught out of position in quick succession and sloppy clearances and I saw Marcelino yell at him at least once. I have no doubt Marcelino will address this because it was clear for everyone to see the defense was terrible. On the other end of the field, Rodrigo was less clinical today and should've really scored that one chance. With all these mistakes, I don't think the claim for the penalty that I mentioned in the beginning would be a valid excuse or save the team from criticism.

Next week Sunday, is another away game and a derby at that, against Levante. We simply need a win. We need the confidence boost of having a first win in the season. Although Levante would be the least challenging opponent so far, on paper, we can't take any chances and it IS still a derby so it should motivate the players and a win would do well for the confidence. 

Finally, the transfer window closing date and Champions League group stage draw are this week, Friday. So stay tuned for any new transfers as well as our group stage opponents.

As usual, let everyone know your ideas, thoughts and comments about the game in the comments below. Was the VAR correct to not give a penalty for Santi Mina's blocked effort? How should we lineup in defense? Who impressed? Who disappointed?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

La Liga Matchday #1 | Valencia CF 1-1 Atl├ętico Madrid | Match Report

The first game of the season was always going to be a challenging one. It's normally challenging to compete after a long break from a competitive fixtures. This game was made even more challenging by the level and quality of the opponent in such a fixture. We came to this game on the back of an impressive and definitive 3-0 victory at home against Bayer Leverkusen, as well as the obvious home advantage. Atletico came into the game with a 4-2 title win in the UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid; which was a definite confidence boost and a good segway into competitive fixtures, while on the other hand, causing some fatigue.

LINEUP




Marcelino stayed loyal to his 4-4-2 formation and went for a familiar lineup with two notable differences, both new signings. Santi Mina and Rodrigo were chosen to start ahead of any new signings which is reasonable as he has had a lot more time to work with them. The left wing was the position which I was most looking forward to seeing who would be chosen to play in, with both Wass and Cheryshev available. Again, the one with the more time to work with was chosen. Kondogbia, Parejo and Soler, which were so instrumental last year, completed the midfield. In defence, Piccini was the new face of the right-back position, with Gaya, Paulista and Garay retaining their starting roles in front of Neto.

MATCH

The first half was a tight affair. Both sides took turns passing the ball around and possession was exchanged several times. Valencia had a few shots from distance from Wass 4 minutes in and from Rodrigo 12 minutes later. The efforts were pretty close enough to get a thought from Oblak but not on target. 

Into the quarter of the game, where Valencia was looking like the slightly better team, Atletico would be the one to break the deadlock 25 minutes in. Three or four players were all drawn to Griezmann, leaving a gaping hole in the middle, which a player of his quality could pass the ball through and into Correa who beat Neto at his near post. Defence in shambles, Neto with an unconvincing dive.

Diego Costa was causing quite a few problems to Paulista and Gaya with quick changes in direction and his strength. Nearing the end of the first half, he would be played through into acres of space with only Garay remotely close to him. Garay opted to take him down, I feared a red card but thankfully the referee thought it only deserved a yellow.

Valencia would get back into the game 15 minutes into the second half. Kondogbia, who had been relatively quiet in the game in terms of daring passes and dribbles, played a long ball out wide to Daniel Wass, who squared it back across into the box where Rodrigo would take Godin out with a shoulder touch into space after which he smashed the ball into the roof of the net, with Oblak sent completely the wrong way. It was a brilliant move with a lot of vision and technique from Kondogbia and Wass, with Rodrigo showing awareness and great finishing. 

With Mestalla now roaring the players into action, the players responded well. Paulista hit the post with a header following a set-piece from Parejo less than 10 minutes after the goal. At this point, Marcelino opted to take off Garay, who had been booked already, was involved in another foul that could've seen him sent off, and suffering from discomfort, for new signing Diakhaby. This would allow us to carry on forward confidently without the risk of injury or a sending off. Santi Mina was also taken off for Gameiro probably due to a fading presence in the game. A few minutes later, a third new signing in Batsuhayi to replace Soler.

The changes looked to further spark the team into motion, with Marcelino clearly intent on getting the win. However, it would be Atletico who would cause danger first following a corner kick which Savic connected with cleanly, only for him to put it to the left of Neto's goal. 

The last ten minutes of the game was all Valencia. Batshuyai and Gamerio were causing trouble for the Atletico defense with their pace and movement. In a 3 on 2 break, Batshuyai would carry the ball forward well, draw the defenders, play a great ball for Wass who unfortunately could not beat Oblak from that angle. Missed chance to get a win.

Batshuyai would threaten again with an effort from range a few minutes earlier. Valencia would get one last great chance in the dying minutes of the game with Gameiro being played into space by Batshuyai again, only for Oblak to deny him a goal on his debut against his old team.

GOALS

0-1 A.Correa (25')
1-1 Rodrigo  (55')

PLAYER RATINGS

Neto 6 - I think he could've done slightly better for the goal, but mostly the defense's fault. Pulled off a great save to deny Diego Costa by the smallest of margins.
Piccini 5 - decent game, would've liked him to get forward more since he poses a lot of threat from crosses. He was denied the time or space to do so.
Garay 4.5 - the booking was a tactical foul and needed to be made. He got away with only a yellow which was good, but proceeded to play with fire and could've got sent off.
Paulista 4 - very slow to react to in the first goal, leaving lots of space. Troubled by the opposing attack on plenty of occasions. Did good to get a dangerous header in from a Parejo corner. Maybe should've scored.
Gaya 7 - very active both defensively and offensively. Kept up well with the pace of the game and the Atletico players. Even late in the game was keeping up with Gelson Martins's pace and dribbling.
Kondogbia 6.5 - quiet in the first half and kept it simple. Stepped up a gear in the second half when it counted by picking out a wonderful long ball to Wass out wide.
Parejo 8 - I was really impressed with him today. He won the ball back quite cleanly with a couple of great sliding challenges. Carried the ball well, kept possession, passing was sharp, and almost assisted a Paulista goal via a corner.
Soler 6 - drew a foul from Felipe Luis to deal with his pace. His effort on goal was confident but a ways off. Could've looked up and picked out a pass to players in space instead.
Wass 7 - great debut. The work ethic was there, great vision to assist Rodrigo with a wonderful ball from out wide. He really needed to finish the one chance he had in the final minutes of the game, it would've topped off a great performance.
Rodrigo 7.5 - full of energy. Wanted a go at goal at every opportunity he could get. A few good efforts from range and some great dribbles caused some worry for Atletico. Great control and awareness to finish Wass's pass.
Santi Mina 4.5 - too quiet. At times I forgot he was even there. Got one header in but didn't trouble too much otherwise. 

Subs:
Diakhaby 6 - covered well for Garay, was quick to clean up any trouble.
Gamerio 6 - professional against his old team, he went out to score and almost did.
Batshuyai 6.5 - generated three or four dangerous plays in the short time he was on the field, looks really promising. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

This Atletico side is a tough one, they always give us plenty of trouble and tonight was no exception. They came off the back of a title win and pretty convincingly against Real Madrid. Beating them was always going to be a tough affair and I can confidently say that we should've won. We had the chances to do so, especially late in the second half. We had a tough opening fixture and a team that is still getting familiar with on another, whereas they are in the later stages of a long-term project. We did well minus the win, but against this side a draw is not a bad result either. The few next fixtures are relatively easier. Next Sunday, we are away to Espanyol and I believe we can manage a win.

As usual, let everyone know your ideas, thoughts and comments about the game in the comments below. Was Garay's challenge a yellow or red card? How did the new signings do? Who impressed? Who disappointed?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Valencia CF 2-1 Deportivo La Coruna

The last official game of the season reminded us why we like to play football in the cooler months. A baking hot day at the Mestalla failed to put off fans as a large crowd turned out to see our heroes for the last time for a while and for some maybe to see them for the last time in our colours.  Valencia surprised us all by wearing the new blue shirts and shorts which will be our second colours next season.






With Jaume in goal, Nacho Vidal on the right of defence and Murillo partnering Garay in the middle, with Gaya on the left.  Good to see Maksimovic in the midfield with Parejo Soler and Guedes. Zaza and Rodrigo led the attack.

Anybody expecting this to be a wind down end of the season bore would be in for a pleasant surprise.
Good to see Bakalli playing for Depor after being given permission by Valencia.  He was certainly getting plenty of the ball and keeping Vidal very busy on the flank. To be fair though Vidal kept him well in check, preventing him from doing us any damage.  There were long spells in the first half when Bakalli was looking a lot better value than Guedes and we would wonder why we would pay all that money when we have Bakalli for free.








The first half was controlled by Valencia with many chances being made.  Maksimovic, with a header, Soler and Rodrigo all had good efforts.  Zaza, however, broke the deadlock though when picking up a loose ball managed to fire into the back of the net to put us in front. A bit lucky really because he seemed to give a little push just before but we got away with it. Zaza also had a good header come off the crossbar and Guedes was unlucky when the keeper threw the ball to him and all of 35 metres out he lobbed the ball to the top corner. Unfortunately the keeper made up for his error making a good save.

In the 77th minute Guedes made up for it by firing in a great goal after being set up brilliantly by Vietto. He deserved something for all his hard work and running but not having much success until then.

Lucas Perez came on for Depor to loud boos and whistles from the home crowd. I can only assume it was because of him turning us down and going back to his home town. A bit harsh I think and maybe he won't want to come here now.  Soon after, he got his revenge by scoring a good goal to put them back in the game.  This is when we relied on Jaume a lot with the visitors making many chances and could have easily scored a couple of goals to spoil our party.  It was not to be though and we won a game we deserved and entertained the large crowd, who by now were just about melting in the sun.








The after match celebrations, as always very emotional with Rodrigo, Guedes and Zaza being told in no uncertain terms that they are wanted here next season.

Player Ratings

Jaume 7   Made some great saves and looked calm and composed. Kept us in the game near the end.  No doubts with him and Neto for next year.

Nacho Vidal. 6.5  He has now given the management something to ponder. A very composed performance today.  I would keep him and Montoya for next season. He is young, strong and tall enough to win balls in the air.

Garay 6.5  Mr. composure.  Not troubled too many times but was there when needed. Why change something that is working.

Murillo 7   Back to his old self.  A great performance today strong and reliable.  I hope they are not looking to replace him.

Gaya  8.5  Man of the match.  In the 90th. minute he got caught with the ball. I mention this because it was the only flaw in a near perfect performance.  Was never beaten and was faultless.

Soler  6  Really disappointing again. Everything he tried to do didn't work. Kept losing the ball and making bad decisions all day.

Maksimovic  7   Really looked the part today. Strong fast and good eye for the pass. Another one who can do a good job for us next season. Just been called up for his national team for the World Cup so that is good for him.

Parejo 7   Had a couple of good chances to score but his shots were a bit wide. Passing was his usual high standard and top performance.  Went off to a standing ovation from a very appreciative audience when replaced late on.

Guedes 7  for the goal and the unlucky chip over the keeper.  Apart from that had a really forgettable first half. Is he worth 40 million ?  I don't know.

Zaza 7   Great goal and much better performance today. There is no doubt that he is the crowd favourite here and it remains to be seen whether the money comes in to tempt him away. Hope he stays and I know that is the opposite to what I said last week.

Rodrigo 6.5   Unlucky on a number of occasions but failed to find a goal that would have made his and our day.

Subs  Vieto for Rodrigo
          Kondogbia for Parejo
          Mina for  Zaza

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Girona 0 - 1 Valencia

I know not everybody will agree with me but I thought it was a pretty good performance today.  It is not easy winning at Girona  as many clubs have discovered this season and with so many changes in the team another loss was not an impossibility. Neither team had anything but pride to play for so I was expecting that we may have had a boring game.  The only problem with the game today is that just when the management have probably got a good idea who will stay and who will go some players have stepped up and sewn some doubts.





With a back line of Montoya, Vezo, Murillo and Lato. Jaume in goal,  Midfield with Soler Maksimovic Torres and Guedes  and forwards with Vietto and Zaza.

Not many chances were made by either side but Girona did hit the post and Soler missed an almost open goal when set up by Zaza.  Even though there were not too many opportunities players such as Maksimovic and Torres showing that they are quite capable of playing at the higher level.

It was good to see Murillo back playing after not seeing too much of him recently and he was having a decent game although caught for speed on one occasion.  Jaume looked comfortable enough in goal and made 2 or 3 good saves but was not troubled too much.

I have a suspicion Guedes was told to play rubbish to keep his price down as again today he just couldn't get anything right. His control was awful and he just seemed to hang on to the ball too much. To be fair he had a couple of decent long shots that were actually on target but did not cause their keeper too much trouble.




With Kondogbia out through injury and Parejo through suspension the midfield seemed to be able to cope well enough. Maffeo the right back for Girona was looking very lively and the talk is that we could be taking him next season from Man City for around 7 million euros as he is on loan at Girona but Man City don't want him back. Might be a good purchase.

The highlight of the game came in minute 60 when Vietto, who was having a good game, picked up the ball just outside his own area and ran the length of the field. Players either side drew off defenders allowing him to pick his spot with a great shot just inside the post. A great goal with a great performance of today.  There was no way back now for the home team and Valencia held on to be worthy winners without being worried too much.

After a run of 5 games without a win it was a very welcome 3 points and good for the moral of the team and supporters.

PLAYER RATINGS

Jaume 7   Not troubled too much but made some good saves when called upon. Always looks confident and will be an asset next season again for backup or number 1.

Montoya 6.0  Rarely seemed to be troubled and given an unusual away game. Had a decent run which almost created a chance

Vezo  7  Did not put a foot wrong today his defending was good and his ball out of defence was faultless. He has to stay and I would not be surprised if he went to the World Cup.

Murillo 6.5  Good to see him back. Good strong player although a little short of pace sometimes his experience is welcome.

Lato 6.0  Still looks a bit raw at times but a tough little player. Got needlesly booked but looked ok.

Ferran 6.5  Looking better each game which is to be expected. Helped out well in defence also at times.

Soler  6.0   Had a decent game but loses marks for missing the sitter when trying too much to place it when perhaps a blast would have been better.

Maksimovic 7  He has to stay.  Worked hard in the middle and compensated well for the missing Kondogbia. I like his strength and ability to win balls in the air also. Looks calm and confident.

Guedes 5  Surely he cannot be this bad without trying. Not a shadow of the player we saw before Christmas and at 40 million PSG must be laughing if we pay that on this performance.

Vietto 7   Great performance even without the goal I was thinking how well he was playing before he actually scored.  Somebody has to decide now about him. Such a shame he was whistled off a few weeks ago. He looked so happy when he scored I really felt for him.

Zaza  5.0  Described by some West Ham supporters as crap when he played there.  What has happened to him.  He looks moody and uninterested.  He has gone from my hero to a player I would like to see the back of after his recent performances. Today he was awful.

Subs Rodrigo for Zaza
         Vidal for Lato
         Gaya for Torres

LATEST NEWS.

Inter have stated that they will not be taking up the option of purchasing Cancelo whether or not they attain Champions League status. In that case he will return to Valencia next week and his future will be decided in due course.  Could be good news for us with either he stays or perhaps better still he goes for nearer 50 million euros.

Also,  Andreas Pereira  has returned to Man United.  He was injured in that farcical encounter in Saudi and will not be fit for a couple of weeks.  It is not expected that he will return to Valencia, which perhaps is also a bit of good news.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Celta de Vigo 1-1 Valencia CF Match Report

More points dropped for Valencia. We should be able to still maintain 4th place at the end of the season. But I think this makes it a lot harder to finish any higher than 4th. We had a lot of good chances to win this game too, but we couldn't take them.


LINEUP


The attack was lead by Rodrigo and Santi Mina, as it has been the case so often in the season. Rodrigo starting is a given. As for Santi Mina, it could have something to do with recent poor performances by Zaza and Vietto.

Kondogbia regained his spot in the midfield after serving his suspension, however he partnered with Soler in midfield as Parejo was suspended for a silly challenge against Getafe. This was predictable as Soler has played in the center before and to good effect. Guedes started again on the left as his performances have been exceptional. Pereira was a surprise to see in the lineup again after being booed off last game. I had thought Ferran would start for sure but after Marcelino defended Vietto and Pereira in the last press conference, this could've been a vote of confidence in Pereira or an act of stubbornness. Lato replaced Gaya who is out for suspension, Vezo took Montoya's place in right-back as we have seen many times before; and the center pairing was Paulista and Garay. Neto replaced Jaume who didn't really impress last game.

MATCH

The game was even for long periods of play. Both sides played a counter-attacking tactic and the game had a lot of back and forth. However, the first 15-20 minutes was a period of dominance from Celta in terms of possession. The period after Valencia came out and dominated the chances.

The first half had 2 good chances for us. One from Pereira at about the 28th minute following a pass from Guedes, and the other from Guedes himself in the 31st minute following an error by Sisto that lost his team possession.

The first half also had 2 penalty appeals. The first was for Celta after Lato and Wass grappled in the penalty box and the latter was knocked down. The referee dismissed it as both players had their arms around one another, much to the dislike of the Celta players and fans. The other was in our favor after a handball claim against a Celta player who had outstretched hands in the penalty box. The replay shows it was indeed a handball. However, the referee dismissed that claim too. I don't know if it was to even it up after not giving the earlier Celta claim or if he genuinely didn't think it was a hand-ball.

Both goals came in the second half but only after some good chances from both sides. Guedes was played in by Rodrigo in the 51st minute but couldn't convert, while on the other end Cabral had a header saved by Neto.

The deadlock would be broken by Santi Mina, who didn't celebrate against his former club. Soler responded the fastest to a defensive error by Sisto, and played in Guedes, who then played a fantastic lob through ball over the defense to find Santi Mina in space. He took the shot on the half-volley to beat Alvarez in the far post. Brilliant finish! Good to see this version of Santi Mina is still there after his injury.

The lead would be short-lived as Celta would equalize four minutes after. Ruben Vezo pulls down Sisto resulting in a free-kick and a booking. The set-piece was taken by Wass who found Gomez under no pressure from Garay and Mina who were around him. Gomez headed the ball, Neto was positioned to far on the opposite side, got a touch but couldn't stop the ball. I would put most of the blame for this one on the defense. There weren't many Celta players in the box and we had more than enough to mark them but we let Gomez get a free header.

Valencia would get several chances to take the lead in the final ten minutes of the game, shortly after Guedes was replaced by Ferran Torres. A corner from Pereira, found Vezo who had his header saved. Only a minute later, Kondogbia had an effort cleared off the line. Marcelino then brought in Vietto for Mina in the last 5 minutes. Vietto would instantly pick out Ferran Torres in a great position in the box, but the youngster couldn't beat Alvarez who smothered the effort.

GOALS

0-1 Santi Mina (59')
1-1 Maximiliano Gomez (63')

PLAYER RATINGS

Neto 4 - claimed the easy efforts, as any keeper should but his positioning for the goal was partially to blame, mostly a fault in set-piece defending though.
Vezo 6 - was decent going forward, beating a few defenders and creating space. Work just as hard in defense.
Garay 3.5 - poor marking to leave Gomez in space to score the goal. Didn't do much to pressure him, he just ran alongside him.
Paulista 6 - provided good defensive cover, intercepted a few dangerous balls
Lato 3.5 - was not an impressive performance. Looked vulnerable in defense and didn't offer much going forward.
Kondogbia 6.5 - good to have him back to dominate the midfield. Had one good chance on target that was cleared off the line.
Soler 7 - If the midfield wasn't already set, I want to see him again this sort of position. Started the play for the goal by capitalizing on an error
Pereira 4.5 - better than last game, but still invisible for huge periods of the game. Had a decent chance in the first half and almost assisted Vezo with a well-placed corner.
Guedes 6.5 - wonderful technique and vision to set up Santi Mina's goal. Had a few chances himself but failed to convert. If he improves his finishing and decision-making in the final third, he will be one of the best in his position.
Santi Mina 6.5 - great technique for the half-volley goal. Was quiet for a lot of the game but stepped up when needed. His first touch was bad at times this game.
Rodrigo 5.5 - mobile and active as always but didn't make as much of an impression this game.

Subs:

Ferran Torres 6 - his crosses are among the most reliable in the team.  Had a good chance to score but couldn't convert.Made a difference in the little time he came. He should've started.
Vietto N/A - not enough time, almost assisted Ferran for a goal but the latter couldn't convert.


FINAL COMMENTS

More points dropped but still in good position to qualify. We did gain a point but had more than enough chances to claim more with plenty of chances. It was interesting that Marcelino defied fan pressure to play both Pereira and Vietto again. This is either to re-affirm his confidence in them or an act of stubbornness. I hope it's the former. These players do certainly have talent but some players can excel only in certain environments and not in others, as well as certain times but not others. The decision is his whether to play them or not, as well as whether they continue or not. I honestly prefer that we seal the spot and then we can give all the players we want a final trial, a final evaluation, before a final judgement is made.

They were missing Aspas and we were missing Parejo, two key players. The extent of impact of their absence is guesswork but I think we had the advantage. It was an entertaining game from what I saw (my stream lagged a lot, so, sorry if I missed anything important).

We had 3 games within a week which is a taste of what it would be like with Champions League football next season. Squad depth and fitness will make a huge difference and it should influence the training sessions and our activity in the transfer market.

Next week, we are back at home against Eibar. We have home advantage but Eibar is a tough team and shouldn't be taken lightly. They did beat us in the reverse fixture. If Betis lose to Atletico tomorrow and we take points against Eibar we guarantee qualification in front of the home crowd so it should be a great treat.

As usual, please let us know your thoughts of the game in the comments below. 


  • Is Marcelino's inclusion of Pereira and Vietto an act of confidence or pure stubbornness?
  • How did Soler do in a central role and would you like to see more of it? 
  • Does Guedes justify his price tag (35-40 million)?
  • Who impressed? Who disappointed?

All comments, thoughts and opinions are welcome. Amunt!